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U.S. Fire Administration
From EMIC Study No. 012, prepared by LRC staff, 1994.
On Friday, November 21, 1980, at approximately 7:17 a.m., a fire occurred at the MGM Grand Hotel, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The high-rise building was constructed in the early 1970's. It consisted of twenty-one stories of guest rooms situated above a large ground-level complex comprised of a casino, showrooms, convention facilities, and mercantile complex. The hotel was partially sprinklered, but major areas, including the Main Casino and The Deli (a small restaurant), located on the first floor casino of the hotel, were not sprinklered. The most probable cause of the fire was heat produced by an electrical ground-fault within a combustible concealed space in a waitresses' serving station of The Deli. Following full involvement of The Deli, the fire spread rapidly through the large casino, venting heavy volumes of smoke throughout the high-rise complex. Smoke also spread to the high-rise tower through stairways, seismic joints, elevator,hoistways and air handling systems. Any means of egress from the high-rise tower was impaired due to smoke spread throughout and into stairways, exit passageways and corridors. The high-rise tower evacuation alarm system did not sound. Most guests in the high-rise were alerted to the fire when they heard or saw fire apparatus, smelled smoke, or heard people yelling and knocking on doors. Many occupants were able to exit the building unassisted down stairways. Others were turned back by smoke and sought refuge in rooms. Many broke windows to signal rescuers or to get fresh air. The departments responding confined the fire to the Casino level within one hour. It was approximately four hours before all guests were evacuated.
This fire resulted in the deaths of eighty- five guests and hotel employees. About six hundred others were injured and approximately thirty-five firefighters sought medical attention during and after the fire. Of the eighty-five fatalities, sixty-one victims were located in the high-rise tower and eighteen were on the Casino level. Fire victims were moved before their locations were documented. The eighty-fifth victim died weeks after the fire. Of the sixty-one victims found in the high-rise tower, twenty-five were located in rooms, twenty-two were in corridors, nine were in stairways and five were found in elevators. One person died when she jumped or fell from the high-rise tower.
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Page Last Updated: September 20th, 2011